Agenda item

Children Social Care Improvement Plan

Report from Councillor Lucy Smith, Cabinet member for Children and Education Services attached.


Jeanette Richards, Executive Director for Children and Young People Provided an overview of the report.


The Department for Education reported back:

1.    that they had observed good quality of practice.

2.    we have a highly engaged, motivated, loyal and committed workforce.

3.    they could see improved morale and culture within the department.

4.    there was a strengthened and visible leadership team, with staff reporting that they felt well supported.

5.    Work is ongoing to strengthen our communication with staff.

6.    There is still an over reliance on agency staff which is impacting on the quality of practice and the progression of plans for children and young people.

7.    The DfE acknowledged that we need to continue our focus on the recruitment and retention of staff

8.    There is further work to do to strengthen partnership working.


The committee then opened to questions:


Councillor Rydeheard sought assurances on the input the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee and the Corporate Parenting Board will have in the LGA Peer review. In response Jeanette Richards confirmed they will collaboratively engage with the groups to hear the child’s voice at all stages through the process.


Cllr Whitby questioned the difficulties of recruitment and retention of social workers. In response Jeanette Richards advised the national context it is really challenging, and it is regularly discussed at Greater Manchester level. She informed the Committee this is an issue for Councils rated as outstanding and lower the rating it becomes more challenging. The independent review for Children’s Services that has been recently published calls for the Government to influence the market and the Government will respond to the report in Autumn. In addition, local authorities across the Northwest have written to the child’s minister for help.


In addition, Jeanette Richards took the opportunity to site the committee on the Ofsted visit that took place on the 21st and 22nd June. As an authority judged as inadequate, Ofsted will continue to undertake monitoring visits. They focus of areas of concerns and once they are satisfied, they will close their key line of enquiry on that topic.


The areas that were covered are:

1.    The Multi Agency Hub, they reported significant improvements in the team coming together

2.    Application of thresholds and decision making; they reported stronger decision making

3.    Triaging: they felt more work is needed.

4.    Referrals resulting in no further action and repeat referrals; they saw there is more work to do.

5.    They looked at concerns out of hours team; they were pleased this had improved

6.    Response to abuse concerns; they were pleased with the improvement here

7.    The impact of leaders – they saw clear understanding of the vision, standards and practice.


We now wait to receive a letter on the 26th July 2022 which is not a published letter.


Members sought assurances on what we should expect to improve on before the next Ofsted visit. In response Councillor Smith advised improvements are expected


Members questioned why we failed in the areas documented in the report and sought assurances on what is being done to turn this around. In response Jeanette Richards advised that on occasion it was ensuring the right performance information was available; in addition, she informed the Committee that Bury Council is currently out to recruit to a senior role who will have the capacity to identify key issues and trends. A further reason for previous failure was capacity across partners to come together in a timely way this is being managed by understanding daily which key partners are available to meet within the 24-hour time frame.


It was agreed:


1.    Jeanette Richards be thanked for her update.

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